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May 30, 2022
Your shoppers want an easy experience. They want to browse your store without hassle or friction. They want to find what they’re looking for quickly and painlessly. After all, 76 percent of shoppers believe that the most important element in a store’s design is the ease of finding what they need.
The most powerful way to make your store easy to navigate is through the use of product categories. In Shopify, these are called collections. All stores need them, but they are especially important for stores with large product catalogs.
In this article, we explain what Shopify collections are and how they work. Then we teach you how to set them up step-by-step.
A collection is Shopify’s version of a product category. They make your store user-friendly and easy to explore.
Collections are defined by ecommerce managers based on any criteria you like. For instance, you might group T-shirts by color, size, brand, style, or material. Products can sit within multiple collections at the same time.
Here are some examples of collections:
As you can see, the possibilities are endless. You can group items into collections based on the needs of your store and your customers’ preferences.
The purpose of a collection is to help customers find products quickly without scrolling through your entire inventory. They exist for the same reason that brick-and-mortar stores create departments, sections, or aisles with similar products. Clear and intuitive collections give online shoppers a way to quickly zero-in on what they’re looking for.
Collections exist as their own page that you can link to in your navigation menu or anywhere else on your site. Collections can also be used to populate widgets or rows on other pages, such as your ecommerce store’s homepage.
There are two ways to build collections on Shopify: Manually and automatically.
A manual collection is when you manually pick the products that will be included in a collection. The collection will always contain the same products unless you add or remove them yourself.
An automated collection is when you set certain conditions and Shopify sorts products for you. New products will be added to collections immediately if they meet the collection’s criteria.
For example, you might create a collection called “Nearly Sold Out” for products with inventory stock less than 5. When a product’s inventory falls to 4, Shopify moves it into the collection. When you increase the inventory (due to restocking), Shopify moves it out of the collection.
For automated collections, you can set rules based on the following attributes:
From your Shopify admin, navigate to Products > Collections. Then click the Create Collection button at the top right of the page.
Give your collection a title and a description. The title will be displayed on the collection page. The description will be displayed if your theme includes it.
If your theme displays an image on the collection page, you can add one here too.
Next, set the collection type to “manual.”
Click the green Save button to publish your collection. If you don't want to publish the collection immediately, you can set a specific date for the collection to be published. Click schedule availability in the collect availability window.
Now that your manual collection is ready, your next step is to add some products to it.
After saving the collection, a new section will appear in the collection editor called Products. Use the search or browse feature to find products to add to the collection.
The sort drop-down menu offers ways to adjust how the products are listed in the collection. For instance, the “best selling” option will list products based on their sales performance, starting with the best selling item. If you choose the “manually” option, you can drag-and-drop products into your preferred order.
Your final step is to add a link to your collection in your online store navigation so that customers can find and view the collection. This does not happen automatically.
On the collection page, click the Update your menu link. (Alternatively, you can navigate to Online Store > Navigation on your Shopify dashboard.)
Select the main menu from your list of menus (or whichever menu applies here for you) and click Add menu item. A sidebar will appear.
In the sidebar, give your new menu item a name. Then search for the new collection you just created in the link field.
Creating an automated collection is nearly the same as creating a manual collection. Instead of setting the collection type to manual, set it to automated.
Your next step is to define the conditions that Shopify will use to classify products into your collection. You can also apply a sort order and other details. Collections can have a maximum of 60 conditions.
First decide if your products must match all conditions or any condition that you’re about to set. Then in the three fields, select the condition type, how the condition type applies, and the condition value. If you want to add more than one condition, then click Add another condition and repeat the steps.
For example, let’s say we’re building a collection called “Summer Favorites Under $100.” We need two conditions:
Our conditions would look like this:
(Note: If you use the “product tag” condition type, you must add that tag to some products in the product editor.)
When you’re happy with your conditions, click Save.
Just like a manual collection, don’t forget to add your new automated collection to your navigation menu. Shopify will not display your collection anywhere automatically.
Now that you understand how to create your own collections in Shopify, let's go over some best practices to help you make effective collections that serve your customers well.
Collections have the power to attract visitors via search. It's not unusual for a collection page to rank high in Google's search results. But that can only happen if you give Google the information it needs to properly categorize the page. You can optimize your collection page by following these steps:
Your collection names are the LAST place you want to be clever, coy, or funny. Avoid using words that your customers have to think about or wouldn’t understand. Your collection names should be clear, descriptive, and intuitive.
Depending on the types of products you sell, your collections could be quite large. In order to strip all of the friction out of shopping at your store, give your customers tools to filter and sort the products in each collection. For instance, shoppers should be able to filter the products in your collection by size or sort them according to price.
Create a logical flow to your site structure so that your shoppers don't have to think very hard in order to find products. The first collections they see should be top-level categories. Your menu should then expose them to deeper and more specific collections. This helps them follow a path to their inevitable purchase.
Here’s an example of structure we’re talking about:
Men’s Apparel > Men’s Shirts > T-Shirts > Vintage T-Shirts
Furthermore, customize your navigation so that the first thing your shoppers see are the collections you want them to see. You might show them your highest margin products first. If you want to clear inventory, put your clearance collection first.
It’s no secret that high quality images convert better. According to eBay Research Labs, image quality is an important factor, “especially for goods where appearance plays a key role.”
Make sure your images are clear and eye-catching at whatever size they appear on your collection pages. It also helps to make them consistent with one another so the page looks like a cohesive unit, rather than a clumsy mess.
Collections are a key part of creating a high-converting ecommerce store with a frictionless customer experience. Follow the steps in this guide to create effective Shopify collections.
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